Rank in Starfleet

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Nyotarules, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Commodore Commodore

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    Starfleet is based (or meant to be based) on the US Navy ranking system, so how accurate did the show get? And what role did the major canon characters have in any of the shows or movies?

    Officers

    Midshipman
    Ensign
    Sub - lieutenant
    Lieutenant
    Lieutenant Commander
    Commander
    Captain
    Commodore
    Rear Admiral
    Vice Admiral
    Admiral
    Admiral of the fleet

    Enlisted personnel
    Seaman
    Leading seaman
    Petty Officer
    Warrant Officer
    Chief Petty officer
     
  2. Tenacity

    Tenacity Commodore Fleet Captain

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    Likely not "seaman."

    And warrant officer wouldn't be between petty officer and chief petty officer., warrant officer is above the highest NCO and below the lowest commissioned officer.
     
  3. David Strickhouser

    David Strickhouser Commander Red Shirt

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    "Sub-lieutenant" is more properly known as Lieutenant Junior Grade or Lieutenant "Jay-Gee". In TNG, I believe, Geordi LaForge held this rank for the first season.
     
  4. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^ IIRC, @Nyotarules is from the UK and "Sub-lieutenant" is indeed the proper name for the rank in the Royal Navy.

    As for Starfleet: They're pretty close to the US Navy in their system. They even dropped the Commodore rank as we ourselves did (replacing it with Rear Admiral lower half). Only major difference that I can see is that for obvious reasons Starfleet has "crewman" instead of "seaman".

    One thing: the US has not had a Fleet Admiral since the second world war, that I'm aware of. IIRC that rank is strictly reserved for wartime. I'm pretty sure Starfleet has had at least one Fleet Admiral when there was not a war on (can't remember exactly who).
     
  5. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Commodore Commodore

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    Re Kelvinverse

    So apart from Spock & Scotty the others all earned a field commission? And do their ranks match the jobs that they had ? E. g Uhura is Chief Communications officer so would someone in the role expect to be a Lieutenant? Chekov was made 'Head of Engineering' in STB (weird so what happened to the officers in the department) and he was an Ensign?
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    All of the officer ranks above get a mention - except for "sub-lieutenant" (which in USN parlance is "lieutenant junior grade") - this rank only gets indicated by its very own sleeve braid in TOS (the minor role of Joe Tormolen) and its very own pips in TNG, DS9 and VOY (several major roles such as Worf, Julian Bashir and Tom Paris).

    Also, there is a "Fleet Admiral" in TNG era parlance, but that title apparently isn't tied to any specific rank - it is commonly associated with the three-pip rank of Vice Admiral. The five-pip Admiral rank does not make an appearance in the TNG era. A rank higher than Admiral does appear in the TOS movies, but is not given a formal name; people wearing this rank pin hold positions such as "the CinC" or "Commander, Starfleet". One might surmise Starfleet does have a name for this rank, and further that it won't be Admiral of the Fleet as this would cause confusion with the job title. Grand Admiral, perhaps?

    Beyond this, Starfleet ranks and USN ranks are a very close match overall.

    Enlisted ranks or ratings are a different matter. Only the TOS movies have featured a comprehensive scheme of pins, and even that was in no way as extensive as the USN one. Dialogue confirms the existence of Petty Officers, though, and O'Brien's rank tends to feature the word Senior, suggesting commonality with the USN rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. This is about as specific as it gets, though. There are "crewmen", but that might be a position rather than a rank; there are "yeomen", and that probably isn't a rank, either. And then there's Crewman 1st Class Simon Tarses, suggesting the USN thing about every rating having three sub-ratings (Crewmen 3rd through 1st Class, Petty Officers 3rd through 1st Class, and then this Chief Petty Officer / Senior Petty Officer / Master Petty Officer trio). Our only real TNG era enlisted rank indicator, O'Brien's collar plate, supports the idea by featuring three chevrons and space for three stars.

    Likely not "spaceman", either, though. :p

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Huh? They supposedly all got their commissions by going through Starfleet Academy. Nothing "field" about that.

    The jobs are all fictional, so it's pretty much impossible to tell. There's no "Communications Officer" to compare against in the real naval working environment, say.

    What we can tell is that aboard different ships, a given job may be performed by people of different ranks. And that a promotion does not mean a person would get a poshier job or be asked or expected to move on to one.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's complicated... :)

    In TOS, Kirk graduated from the Academy with the rank of Lieutenant. He did once hold the rank of Ensign (while serving on the Republic) but that was a field commission earned while he was taking a cadet cruise. His actual rank when he graduated was Lieutenant.

    In ST09, I'm fairly sure that Kirk was just about to graduate - again, with the rank of Lieutenant - during the scene at Starfleet Academy. It's only interrupted by news of the attack on Vulcan. So when he was initially on the Enterprise, Kirk was a Lieutenant (this is supported by the scene where he and Sulu are beamed up from the mining drill - the transporter readout screen gives his rank as Lieutenant).

    And of course at the end of the film, he skips over the LCDR and CDR grades and is given the rank of Captain. But those ranks do still exist.

    As for McCoy: I'm fairly sure that he was given the rank of LCDR when he finished medical school because it's standard practice for doctors in the military. For example when my dad joined the Army Medical Corps he was immediately commissioned as an Army Captain - he didn't have to go to West Point. So Starfleet probably has something similar.

    (We do see McCoy attending the Academy in ST09 but this may be just some remedial Academy courses for docs, like Julian Bashir once mentioned.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  9. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Commodore Commodore

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    Yes but if the Nero incident had not happened Kirk would not graduate to the rank of Captain would he?
    McCoy was not expecting to be Head of the Medical division and neither was Uhura expecting to be in charge of Communications. The only one in the expected role was Lt Commander Spock. Not sure if Sulu and Chekov were cadets as well or were already officers.


    Thanks
     
  10. Mr. Laser Beam

    Mr. Laser Beam Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ^ No, if that whole business with Nero hadn't occurred, I'm sure Kirk would simply have graduated as a Lieutenant, same as his prime counterpart did.

    (Starfleet does have Ensigns - even in the Kelvin timeline - since we see at least one in STB, the officer who helps Kirk hide the Abronath and is later killed by it.)
     
  11. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Naah, never stated. It appears he never left the Academy until holding the rank of Lieutenant, but we know he spent time there as instructor (to Gary Mitchell), so leaving is no doubt completely different from graduating.

    Absolutely baseless. He held that rank "several years" after meeting Ben Finney, and nothing suggests either of them would have been a cadet at that time, or that anything cadety would have been involved in the cruise.

    ...For all we know, Lieutenant Kirk had already graduated, but still insisted on taking that test. Note how the already postgraduate Lieutenant Saavik takes the test in ST2:TWoK.

    Then again, everybody and his idiot cousin is an academician in Starfleet - LCdr rank might be too much of a reward. And we have seen MDs graduate as mere Lieutenants (junior grade) in the TNG era.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  12. Nyotarules

    Nyotarules Commodore Commodore

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    ^I did find it strange a doctor in charge of a starship (crew 430 in TOS and up to 1000 in TNG) is a LCDR and Julian Bashir fresh out of school is Head of Medical on a starbase (Population who knows?)
    Probably a reflection that Starfleet did not value Starbase 9 at all.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
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  13. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    Starfleet apparently has or had both cadets and midshipmen. What the difference is is not clear.

    The US Navy had already dropped the commodore grade when TOS was being made in the '60s.

    Necheyev was one, but wore three pips, so fleet admiral probably means something different.

    That's not supported onscreen, though. He was an ensign in Republic and was referred to as "lieutenant" in Farragut, though that might have been short for lieutenant j.g. The Republic assignment was "years later" than his time at the Academy.
     
  14. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Generally, we may assume the writers follow the USN lead, because they aren't strongly motivated to do anything else. And generally, if the writers get tangled in the inevitable problems of maintaining continuity, it takes minimal effort to turn what may look like a complicated mess into what "really" is just the USN system plus a few hilarious hijinks that happened on the way to the episode.

    I don't mean to say that complicated isn't any fun. But simple and straightforward in this particular case is probably both what the writers wanted and what will persevere in the long term because future writers will want it, too.

    Alas, you don't get simple and straightforward by applying Occam's Razor. You get simple and straightforward by explaining away the mistakes and inconsistencies, and for that you need Occam's False Moustache and Funny Wig more often than the Razor... Thankfully, rank generally isn't all that complicated in Trek.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  15. David Strickhouser

    David Strickhouser Commander Red Shirt

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    I believe that at the Academy, in classes, you are recognized as a Cadet. When a cadet is assigned to a vessel for training duty, working alongside full officers/teachers, being addressed as Midshipmen would to seem to follow.
     
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  16. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Case in point:

    "Midshipman" appears three times in Trek, always in the "Kirk era" (TOS and the TOS movies).

    "Court Martial": "[Ben Finney] was an instructor at the Academy when I was a midshipman, but that didn't stand in the way of our beginning a close friendship."
    "Ultimate Computer": "Dunsel, Doctor, is a term used by midshipmen at Starfleet Academy."
    TWoK: "Midshipman 1st Class Peter Preston, Engineers Mate, Sah!"

    All the people involved would appear to be "at the Academy". They aren't instructors in two of the cases at least. Are they cadets? Nothing there against this: the two words could be simple synonyms, that is, there is no difference whatsoever. But possibilities abound.

    - Perhaps a Cadet is a Midshipman when on a training cruise?
    - Perhaps a Midshipman is a special grade of Cadet, coming after Freshman?
    - Perhaps Midshipman is a special job for a Cadet, close to the original in the sense of, say, mediating between instructors/officers and "common" Cadets?

    Basically, nothing need be different from the USN norm unless we really insist.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    These are odd assumptions made in the Okuda Chronology that don't bear much relation to actual naval traditions. And, as Timo notes above, this career path for Kirk completely disregards the "some years later" comment that Kirk makes in "Court Martial."

    It makes much more sense to assume that Kirk graduated from the Academy as an Ensign, the way most cadets do, had the incident with Finney on the Republic some time after that, and later transferred to the Farragut with Captain Garrovick, where he was promoted to Lieutenant. That jibes with everything we're told about Kirk's career in TOS. As the Captain of the Republic was never named, we can assume that this was also Garrovick. That way he can still be Kirk's commanding officer from the day he left the Academy.
     
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  18. B.J.

    B.J. Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Postgraduate? I thought Lt. Saavik was still a cadet, since she's one of the people addressed by Spock as "trainees", and Kirk refers to them as "cadets". Her uniform colors also correspond to being a cadet (background info at best, though).
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    A question warranting study here is whether anybody ever explicitly graduated at a rank other than Ensign.

    Ambiguity dominates the scene. Say, Julian Bashir requested DS9 as his first assignment, and when he gets there in "Emissary Pt II", he's already Lt (j.g.). But we don't know if he got what he requested - and if he did, perhaps he got an instant promotion along with it, too? McCoy in the 2009 movie is a Lieutenant Commander back when Kirk still plays Cadet - but we don't know when McCoy graduated and how many of Kirk's three years at the Academy were shared with Cadet McCoy and how many with Already Commissioned Officer McCoy (a man definitely already assigned to the Enterprise as a top medic, perhaps the second-in-medical-command, when the issue of padding her crew with cadets arose). Perhaps Doctors only take five courses out of the hundred and get their commissions after three months, yet graduate as Ensigns anyway?

    If he's an instructor at Lieutenant rank, as per "Where No Man", then it's easy to argue he still hasn't left the Academy. And we see instructors aboard starships in ST2:TWoK at least. The Republic need not be a dedicated Academy ship or anything - random ships might get to train midshipmen, and might take Academy personnel aboard for the purpose, rather than use their own officers for the teaching.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The thing is, Saavik herself is never addressed either of the two things. And the people taking part in the simulation come in three distinct castes: those in jumpsuits, those in officer garb and under training, and those in officer garb and playacting for the purpose of helping out in the training. "Cadets" and "trainees" might be the jumpsuit folks exclusively (jumpsuit rather than collar color is what defines Cadet for the purposes of that ST:Nemesis photo at least!), while commissioned officer tunic plus red collar might define a postgraduate.

    Tellingly, too, it's "trainees" and "cadets", plural, who destroy the simulator, but Saavik and Saavik alone who is being judged for how she faces failure and death... Perhaps Starfleet gets maximum lightyearage out of Kobayashi Maru by training Cadets and Command School postgrads simultaneously (and possibly even giving refresher training to veteran officers on the side)?

    Timo Saloniemi